What Are The Origins Of Nordic Walking?
Nordic walking is fitness walking with specially designed poles. It evolved from an off-season ski-training activity known as ski walking, hill bounding or ski striding to become a way of exercising year-round. Ski walking and hill bounding with poles has been practiced for decades as dry land training for competitive Nordic skiers. Ski coaches saw the success of world class cross country skiers who used ski poles in the summer for ski walking and hill bounding and it became a staple of off-season Nordic ski training. Hikers with knee pain discovered they could walk more powerfully with a pair of trekking poles, often eliminate or reduce hip, knee foot pain, and backpackers found relief from painful backs when using poles.
The First Nordic Walking Poles
The first fitness walking poles with optional rubber tips (for hard surfaces, such as pavement) were designed by Tom Rutlin, utilizing Reflex strapless downhill ski pole grips and Reflex downhill ski pole shafts. They were introduced in the U.S. in 1988. These poles are a heavier design similar to trekking poles with a simple loop strap. Later the poles were sold without straps. Nordic walking straps had not yet been developed and patented by the Salomon Ski Company. The leading European manufactures of Nordic Walking Poles (Exel, Swix and Leki) in following years all equipped their Nordic Walking poles with Salomon Patented Straps, but not on their trekking poles. Few if any of the off-brands of walking poles being manufactured in China utilize the Salomon Patented Strap system.
Exel Introduce Specially-Designed Nordic Walking Poles
In 1997, a Finnish ski pole manufacturer Exel, working with Marko Kantaneva, introduced the trademarked Nordic Walker poles utilizing heavier cross country or Nordic ski pole shafts plus user-friendly Nordic style straps and “Nordic walking” became the accepted term for fitness walking with specially designed poles which are now marketed by nearly all major ski and trekking-pole manufacturers . Although fitness walking with poles is currently growing in popularity at a more modest pace around the globe, the Nordic skiing savvy Northern Europeans very quickly embraced this dry land hybrid of two of their favorite fitness activities—Nordic skiing and walking, and a little more than a decade after its introduction in Europe, an estimated 10 million people (the majority in Northern Europe) have taken up nordic walking as a regular form of exercise..
- How a Skier Stays Fit Without Snow (online.wsj.com)